Ducks hope to use international experience to build on last year’s success
For many Oregon athletes, summer break means trading in their Eugene lives for three months back home. The long summer days are filled with everything from working jobs, summer school, camps, catching up on Netflix binges and even possibly studying abroad.
Oregon men’s tennis senior Simon Stevens was one such Duck that traveled home for the summer. Yet, unlike driving two hours north to Portland or even flying seven hours to New York, Stevens traveled 5,182-miles to reach his home in Belgium.
An hour away from his families house in Charleroi, a city an hour south of Brussels, Stevens competed in the Belgium F10 Futures tournament in late August and reached the doubles finals alongside partner and long-time friend, Germain Gigounon.
The pair matched up against Tom Schonenberg and Jeroen Vanneste in the championship match but fell short of the title after sets of 6-2, 6-7 (4-6) and 10-6. The duo settled for second place, but the experienced still proved beneficial for Stevens.
“In the U.S. we play way more doubles than at home,” Stevens said. “Personally, I was really struggling in the doubles. So, this summer I really tried to play some doubles tournament. And it worked well; I found a good partner and we had some good results. I was very happy about my level, I hope that I can keep that level this fall.”
The second-place finish is Stevens’s best result in Futures play since the Belgium F3 Futures tournament in 2015, where he claimed a spot in the semi-finals.
In addition to a different type of court, Stevens said that the preparation for such a tournament differs from his normal Oregon training.
“I really prepared in a different way than here,” Stevens said. “Every time we practice [in Eugene] we always have 5 to 10 [people] on the courts. When I go home I am by myself.”
In addition to Stevens, fellow men’s tennis senior Cormac Clissold returned to his home abroad. Traveling 7,674 miles to New South Wales, Australia, Clissold also worked on his doubles play in local competitions.
“Australia is very big on doubles,” Clissold said. “It’s good to come back and have a few tips for the boys.”
Clissold and Stevens look forward to their final season at Oregon and feel as if their role as seniors will help them accomplish the team’s goals.
“Being seniors now we feel like we can continue this culture we’ve got going and really take control of the team, and point them in the right direction,” Clissold said.
With the fall roster of all returning players, the team is learning how to integrate each other’s skills and shape themselves into a powerful unit.
“We have a pretty small group,” Stevens said. “I don’t think we have one guy leading everyone. … We all have different qualities and if everyone can add their quality to the team it can be a good mix.”
With such confidence in the team’s combined strength, the atmosphere around the seven players feels like a “brotherhood.”
“We really are bonding as a team a lot more,” Clissold said. “Developing a bit of a culture within the team, where we work hard and we want to work hard for each other. It’s more of a brotherhood—we’re doing it for the boys.”
The Ducks will combine their summer experiences with this collective ‘all-for-one’ mindset as they begin fall season as a team at the Boise Invitational in Boise, Idaho, Oct. 6–8.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni
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